Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting Back in the Game of Life

I stared at the tiny pink game piece: a little woman from the game of Life. How had it gotten here on the floor of my room?

My thoughts were distracted. I was feeling sad and lonely. Stupid facebook showed so many of my friends enjoying only served to rub-in the loneliness I was feeling. I felt unneeded and unwanted. Life after college was completely different from what I had expected. I wanted friends...friends to pursue me. To choose me. To send the first text message, e-mail, post on facebook, or make the first phone call.

Some of this loneliness can be applied to the fact that I don't have a church family at the moment. I don't feel like I fit in at my parent's church and while I have tried some new churches, it's nerve-racking to venture into a new building where I know no one. But you know, it is when I reach these moments of utter despair that God reminds me, He's there.

Sometimes, for the greater good, He allows people to forget that I exist in order to leave me no options but Himself.
Does this work? Not always right away. Sometimes I ignore Him with a frustrated sigh. There are other times when I feel like I've been smacked with the "Obvious" stick and apologize to Him, remind myself of my life's purpose and move on.

The tiny woman from the game of Life reminded me of myself. Detached from the reality of Life...alone, forgotten. How did she get on my floor? How did I get where I am? Why can't I be the "perfect Christian" that I want to be? Jesus never promised easy street, that's for sure. It has been recommended to me that I create a "life statement" or "goal" about why I'm here and what I should be focused on each day. Here goes: (this is subject to editing as I continue to grow in Christ)

'I, Hannah, a dim reflection of Christ, do solemnly swear to love those that God places in my life through: excellent work, pursuing friendships, engaging in ministry opportunities and investing in a deep love-relationship with my Savior on a daily, hourly, even minutely basis. All of this so that I may be ready in season and out to share with others the wonderful news of Christ and His great passion for every single person.'

Still needs some work, but I'll start there. I probably should go place that little pink woman back in the box of Life so she too can continue to fulfill her purpose...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite...

I spent most of my college career living in the dorms. It was cheaper, simpler, and a pre-furnished living space. One year though, I decided to get an apartment with one of my best friends. We lived in this place just north of the campus and most of our neighbors were grad students from India.

We were pretty excited about decorating our place and had friends over every week- especially on the weekends for game night. We were so serious about offering teas and coffee that I had bought a 30-pack of silver spoons from Sam's Club just so we wouldn't have to fill the world with plastic. :)

We noticed one night that Sallie was getting bit by something. After a few days we realized it must be coming from somewhere in the apartment because, I too had a couple of bites. We couldn't hear or see any mosquitos...that was the only thing that could be causing this problem, right?

One night, as I was reading on my bed, I noticed something small race across my pillow towards me!!!

Flying off the bed, I landed facing it and peered at the tiny, brown speck on my pillow. Grabbing my frisbee and entomology textbook (how ironic...) I swept the thing onto the underside of the frisbee. Not having any Raid handy, I grabbed the Lysol can and sprayed the unidentified speck dead.

The murder overwith, I studied the little bug. I'd never seen anything like it before. Hmm...what in the world could it be?? I opened my textbook and began flipping through the pictures and drawings of different insects and then IT HIT ME.

This thing came from my bed! What if there really were such things as bed bugs??? I'd heard of those mythical creatures before, but had no idea what they looked like and had doubted their existence. I mean, someone just made up a cute saying: "Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bugs bite!", right? It was just a saying!

With an ominous feeling I turned back to the glossary and searched under the "B". There it was: Bed Bugs. Frantically, I flipped to the page but it was just words. I read...about three different types of bed bugs. Then I turned the page...There, the largest of the three pencil drawings, was the exact same bug as the dead one on my frisbee!!! The world ended.

I quickly hollered to, Sallie: We have a problem!!

Did we ever have a problem. Google was our best friend. We poured over articles about how to get rid of bed bugs and looked at each other in dismay! Cups of a special oil placed under the "feet" of our beds, special mattress and pillow covers, washing everything in hot water and vacuuming what couldn't be washed...

***Did you know a bed bug can live 90 days in a sealed container??? That's how they get takes FOREVER for them to die!

After a trip to Walmart (in which we bought most of the giant black trash bags they carried and each got a different colored duct tape to seal them: purple for Sallie, teal for me...we made a pit stop at Starbucks. It was now 11:30pm. It was the only all nighter my friend Sallie pulled in college. (I took a nap...)

My mom was kind enough to come for a day-trip and sit in the Washateria with me while we washed every piece of fabric we owned and cleaned the apartment from head to toe.

***Did you know that bed bugs make three bites at a time? If you have itching bites and they are in groupings of afraid.

Turns out, someone in the apartment on our right (a bachelor pad of four Indian guys) had brought the bed bugs back over the break. The apartment owner paid to spray their apartment, but did they warn the apartments on either side about what had happened or spray them just in case? NO. So the bugs had migrated through the wall into our place. We warned the neighbor on our left and heard the vacuum cleaner going for hours...

That said, I was the ONLY one in my ento lab that semester to have bed bugs in my bug collection! I even caught a couple of the babies-which are practically invisible because they are a mix between white and clear!

So, sleep tight my friends and don't EVER let bed bugs bite...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Grasshopper Girl

Entomology 201.
I'd looked forward to this class and expected an A before I even began.

You see, I've been catching and identifying bugs since before I could walk...example for proof? Ok, here:

Me- one year old, crawling around on the kitchen floor.
Mom- on the telephone.
Me- I find a cricket on the floor.
Mom- still on the phone.
Me- I use my highly tuned sense of taste to identify the bug.
Mom- mid-sentence spots me inserting cricket into my mouth and shrieks! Her baby is being contaminated!!! Phone call is ended.
Me- I experience my first "washing the mouth out with soap" routine.

There. Proof. -Though I don't use the "tasting" method to identify bugs anymore...I still chase down things that move to get a better look. My top two favorite bugs? 1) Praying Mantis & 2) Mole Crickets.

So, there I was my junior year of college, enrolled in Ento 201. My favorite part? The lab. We watched this incredible BBC series on insects and I didn't care that the first two labs went overtime...I was fascinated. Other girls were squirming in their seats, guys were trying to make it worse with their comments- but I had tuned them all out.

Naturally I was very excited about the following week's lab. If the last two were so spectacular who knew what the next week would hold? Sure the cases of pinned bugs that adorned the walls gave me the creeps- I didn't enjoy looking at dead things on display. And the smell? Well it wasn't pleasant- hundreds of dead bugs soaked in chemicals that had both killed them and continued to preserve them... *still makes me shudder to think about it.*

The following week, as I talked with the people sitting around me in lab and we waited for our instructor, I noticed a screen carrier with some beautiful, live, orange and white grasshoppers. I'd never seen any so colorful before. In walked our TA (teacher's assistant/ aide) and he began handing out sheets of paper with diagrams of the insides of grasshoppers on them. No big deal- pencil drawings and labeling the insects- child's play.

Then he said what our project was going to be for the day: dissecting a grasshopper. The same beautiful ones I'd been admiring minutes earlier. They were destined to die. I felt sick. I'd never dissected anything before and had realized early on that I had no desire to partake of that practice (otherwise I would've been a vet).

I didn't feel very well and was terrified about this whole idea...the group around me began to notice.
"You look really pale." the girl next to me commented.
"Aw, she'll be fine." the guy behind me pronounced.
"Sure! All you need to do is breathe, ok? Count between breaths it'll help." the guy in front of me coached.

Is it hot in here? Why can't I breathe? Will he just stop talking about breathing?! -my mind was beginning to race.

The "breathing" guy continued, "Look, breathe in....breathe out. You can do this! Are you breathing?"

No! No I'm not breathing. My throat is closing up! -But I couldn't say anything.

"Ok lets divide into groups of 6." said the TA. I had the three who'd been talking to me plus another guy and girl. "Now, send one of your members to catch a grasshopper from the bucket."
The tall guy who'd insisted I'd be fine, caught one of the lovely creatures and brought it back to the table.

I stared at it with a mixture of sorrow and horror. Thoughts of grabbing the bucket of grasshoppers and running from the building to set them free crossed my mind...

"Haha, look at the little guy." "You're about to die, buddy!" "Ew, don't hold that thing close to me!" and other such comments flew around my head. I really couldn't breathe well at all and suddenly was blind. Why was the world blurry?

"Now, I want one of you to pull the grasshopper's head off quickly and cleanly so we can study it's insides..." the TA's voice began to fade.

Pull off it's head?!?! I thought. Of course I could barely see, but the idea was enough to make me sick.

"Whoa, are you ok?" my entire group was focused on me. The grasshopper, was peeking over the one guy's thumb at me- I could just see it's cute head and antennae. I suddenly realized a wet sensation on my face and realized I could see between blinks. I'd never hyperventilated like this before- I realize that's what it was now. At the moment, the fact that I couldn't breathe or see was causing me to panic.

"Go!" my group urged me. "Hurry before we kill it." "The TA won't mind! Hurry!" "Leave NOW" the guy holding the grasshopper told me.

After 15 seconds of deliberation, I bolted across the lab room, through the hall, down the stairs, along the huge corridor, and outside. I paused for a moment to try and catch my breath before slipping around the corner of the building where I collapsed behind some shrubs and sobbed. For the grasshopper. For the thought of killing something by pulling it's head off. Because I was too tenderhearted for my own good. Because it was hard to breathe. Because I had to.

I called my mom and spoke with her and my sister for awhile in between sobs. Finally, after composing myself, I sent a text message to some friends- I don't remember if I was just sharing the moment or asked for prayer.

At last I headed back into the building and checked my face in the bathroom mirror to make sure I didn't look like I'd been crying. It was no use. My nose and eyes were red. Embarrassed I walked back up the stairs and waited in the hallway for the rest of my class to finish. I still needed to gather my things and was debating apologizing to the TA.

The class finished and began leaving. The looks of pity and curiosity I received made me shrink into the wall. My TA never commented on my "skipping" lab when I made my way back in to grab my stuff, so I didn't bring it up.

One of my lab partners called me "Grasshopper Girl" the following week and that nickname stuck until I graduated from A&M.

I did have to see grasshopper guts during the lab final and almost lost it, but I managed to finish that exam and haven't squished a bug since. Ok ok, I'll squish a mosquito with a tissue...but I have huge feelings of guilt to overcome each time. Cockroaches get flushed down the toilet and if they live, I'm come and kill them!